1 to 1 and the Digital History

Samsung Series 3 Chromebook.JPG

Google Chromebook

Technology has begun to find a place in today’s schools.  Computers, once reserved for the library or digital lab, are now a staple of the modern students arsenal.  Many schools have begun experimenting with what is known as a 1 to 1 program.  Such a program—in theory—means that every student in the school is paired with a digital device.  For example, at Roosevelt High School in Portland, OR, many of the students are given iPads to use for their studies.  Those who aren’t given iPads have access to Chromebooks that are located in the classroom.  These devices allow the students to access multiple web-based resources during a lesson.

There are certain advantages to a 1 to 1 style classroom.  One of the advantages is that the students now have access to exponentially larger amounts of information with which to learn from.  It also means that tools such as iBook and Google Docs can be used with greater ease.   Google Docs is extremely useful for when students write essays.  Teachers can not only give corrections but give immediate encouragement to students as they are working.

There are some dangers to using a 1 to 1 classroom.  Standards have to be set concerning student behavior while using their devices.  For example websites such as YouTube and Facebook might be made off limit to students.  Maybe students will not be allowed to use earphones in order to ensure that their auditory attention remains with the teacher.  This can also be assisted by setting rules as to when the devices can be used.   A reliable internet service will also be required.  Some schools may have all the hardware, but because of the constraints of their internet , are limited to what they can do in the classroom.

The Costs of Technology

green guy

Prompt:  Assume you have your first full time teaching job and the principal tells you that you’ve been selected to pilot the  “1 to 1 Project.”  What are your thoughts about the opportunities and challenges that  presents?

I think that there are some really great positives about the 1:1 system. I have seen it at work within my student teaching classroom. It truly is an excellent method to connect students to the teacher and encourage interactions. It is an extremely easy and practical way for a teacher to view the progress of a student’s work and even give feedback. For example, as students work on a writing piece, the teacher can make comments that the student will see right then and they can make appropriate changes or what not. This could even happen when the student is at home, thus connecting student to teacher even away from school. However, I wouldn’t consider this to be “real-time” interaction, as I have seen 1:1 described. This style could seriously diminish the face to face interactions that are so important between student and teacher. Now, teachers have an accessible excuse to sit in the back of the classroom as and never actually walk around to answer questions or work with students.

Furthermore, in terms of actual costs, technology is extremely expensive. More and more now, schools are encouraging google classroom classes with chromebooks or apple products. I have heard that it is extremely easy these days to get a grant for iPads or chromebooks. However, I can’t help but wonder what a difference we could make if we channeled that money to somewhere else in our education system. We could hire more teachers so that classroom sizes are smaller. Or this money could fund other materials and sources. I volunteered in a classroom where they had brand new macbook airs but there were thirty kids in the class, one teacher, dysfunctional desks, and no other supplies. Furthermore, my biggest qualm with using this 1:1 style is that not all children have computers at home that they can use. If they come from a poor household, their family may not own a computer. Even if the student comes from a higher income household, they may have one computer to share with the rest of their family. They may never get the time one night to do the necessary homework or to finish something that they didn’t have time to finish in class. This can alienate children and cause them to fall behind.

One other giant cost that I see in the 1:1 style is the constant distraction of technology. As I have been teaching in my classroom, I have wrestled with the constant threat of students being led off task by the computer in front of them. If I want students to follow along with an online article as I teach, I have no real way to tell if they are listening to me. Today, for example, I noticed many kids fervently typing away and staring at their screens. Of the screens that I could see, I saw that these kids were taking notes, which I didn’t ask them to do, so I was rather surprised. However, what about those kids that are in the back, with screens that are not visible to me? This could be breaking down the student to teacher interactions. In addition, when I ask students to do workshop time on their computers, I often notice students messaging each other and looking at other websites. I even have one student that I have found hacking the system! I think this a serious cost in terms of not only interactions within the classroom but also in terms of the productivity that students could have if they were simply using pen and paper. At the same time, as I mentioned above, the drawback to pen and paper is that the teacher cannot follow along in a student’s process or progress as well.

If I were a new teacher asked to launch this 1:1 project at a school, I would be apprehensive of these particular costs.

August 30, 2011

Nexus Tablets 1 – 1 Classroom

Google Nexus Tablet

Prompt:  Assume you have your first full time teaching job and the principal tells you that you’ve been selected to pilot the  “1 to 1 Project.”  What are your thoughts about the opportunities and challenges that  presents?

I’m glad the Nexus tablets our students have are not this large. They would be even harder to type on and even more of a distraction … My CT chose the Nexus tablets rather than iPad’s because he could get more of them. With the Nexus, he was able to complete a class set. Although the ones we have are smaller, there are still significant issues with using them. As of now, I am torn on the merits of a 1 – 1 classroom through the Google Nexus Tablet design.

First and foremost, the tablets we have are not equipped with keyboards. My CT hoped that students – being so apt in texting – would be able to type quickly on the screens. This was not the case. There are consistent technical issues with typing, copying and pasting, along with the other issues such as WIFI connectivity and more. Rather than moving more quickly with technology, it would be more simple for students to write things by hand. If not, I often send them to the library where they can type more quickly.

There are good things about this format. Google Classroom is the largest by far. The ability to push assignments and handouts to students not only saves paper, it helps both the student and teacher alike by keeping their lives more organized. Students complete these assignments online and turn them in with the click of a button. This is an incredible bonus for everyone.

However, I am conflicted about the efficacy of this method. Perhaps different technology would make the situation better. If students had the ability to type rather than just using their thumbs, they would complete work more quickly. Even so, using these tablets in class has become a double edged sword. It deserves more consideration before full implementation.

The 1:1 classroom good, bad or ugly?

The monkey selfie

The monkey selfie

Prompt:  Assume you have your first full time teaching job and the principal tells you that you’ve been selected to pilot the  “1 to 1 Project.”  What are your thoughts about the opportunities and challenges that  presents?

The good:

Integrating technology into the curriculum is pivotal in the process of making the classroom an extension of the real world. Students need to know how to use technology for success in social, professional and personal situations. To remove technology from the classroom would be detrimental to the validity of the class as it is no longer applicable or relatable to student’s everyday life. Additionally, students will be utilizing technology to further their education at home and as they go on to study at the university level, teaching them how to use it and how to use it successfully.

The bad:

In this era students spend most of their life staring at a screen between television, cell phones, computers, tablets, ipads, ibooks and video games. Spending too much time on the screen has proven harmful in some studies. One such study suggests that too much screen time can cause brain damage while others have shown a relationship between excessive screen time and an inability to read other people’s emotions. (NPR) As an educator I have to ask myself if it is wise to add to their already excessive screen time.

The ugly:

While I believe that classroom management should never prevent an educator from teaching important content, providing students with their own electronic device to use during class can be a nightmare. Even the best students can get sucked into the never ending fun that is animal memes and celebrity gossip. Students can access inappropriate content, illegally download movies (including classic western films) in your classroom and on your watch. Ipads and laptops with cameras provide the perfect opportunity for class selfies. While these may seem like harmless distractions that can be handled by consistent classroom management, it can prevent students from getting to the heart of the lesson that could be delivered in a more productive manner.